Intel Launches Kaby Lake NUC Mini PCs With Thunderbolt 3 And Optional Optane Memory

Intel is releasing a new line of "Next Unit of Computing" (NUC) devices built around its newly launched desktop Kaby Lake processor family unveiled at CES. While not a monumental leap over Skylake, Intel's Kaby Lake architecture brings with it a handful of architecture improvements and better integrated graphics, both of which are welcome upgrades in the fast growing mini PC sector.

Early generation NUCs were interesting, though not necessarily exciting due to their limitations. However, NUCs have become increasingly capable little machines as of late, and for users in need of a system that can tackle general purpose computing chores, NUCs have become intriguing options. That is even more true with the newest models featuring Kaby Lake underneath the hood.

Intel NUCs Kaby Lake

Intel introduced five new NUCs in all, including two Core i3 models (NUC7i3BNK and NUC7i3BNH), a pair of Core i5 models (NUC7i5BNK and NUC7i5NBH), and a Core i7 variant (NUC717BNH). The Core i3 and Core i5 systems ship in short and tall enclosures, while the Core i7 model only comes in the tall option. Models with a taller chassis have room for a 2.5-inch SATA storage device (HDD or SSD).

While the overall form factor is the same as before, the latest generation NUCs feature a sleeker aesthetic that blends bits of dark gray and black. This is not the first time we've seen this color combination, as a couple of previous generation NUCs with Celeron hardware inside used the same color combination (NUC6CAYH and NUC6CAYS). However, the darker color scheme is far less common and, in our opinion, much better looking  than nearly every previous NUC (save for the special Skull Canyon NUC617KYK).

Intel NUC Front Back

All five Kaby Lake NUCs are outfitted with two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots and M.2 slot for SATA 6Gbps or PCIe x4 Gen 3 NVMe SSD storage. They also feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connectivity, a gigabit Ethernet port, a micro SD card slot, four USB 3.0 ports (two on the front and two on the back), an internal USB 2.0 header, an IR receiver, HDMI 2.0 output, and a USB-C port that supports data transmission or can be used as a DisplayPort. In the Core i5 and Core i7 models, the USB-C port can also function as a Thunderbolt 3 port.

The type of performance that can be expected depends on the NUC model and how it is configured. Users looking for some added pep may want to consider the Core i5 and Core i7 model—not only do they boast faster processors, they also feature Iris Plus graphics with 64MB of onboard memory. It is also worth pointing out that the tall NUCs are "Intel Optane memory ready," which means they'll support Intel's 3D XPoint storage solutions when they come out.

There is no word yet on how much these NUCs will cost or when they will be available.